Strength and Hope

Edification, consolation, aids to Theosis. There are enough Orthodox blogs out there willing to point out in greatest detail what is wrong with this world. Holy Orthodoxy isn't about lamenting over what is wrong so much as rejoicing that what is wrong with this world can be made right, can be deified.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It's not what you're against, but Who you're for

The immobility of our spiritual and physical members is one thing, but the acquisition of virtues is another. The first depends on nature, but the second governs all the natural motions.

To have no desire for the attractions and pleasures of the world is not the same thing as aspiring after the good things that are eternal and invisible. They are two distinct things. Many people despise the first, but few give thought to the second.

It is one thing to shun the praises of men and not go looking for them, it is not the same as being attached to the glory of God. There is a great difference between them. Many men who are still ruled by their passions have rejected the first, but very few have been worthy of receiving the second, and then only through great pain and labor.

It is one thing to be content with shabby clothes and have no desire for magnificent array, but a different matter to put on the light of God. They are two different things. Caught up in myriad desires, some have easily been negligent, but only they who constantly search for it through all kinds of penitence; those who become children of light and of the day through the fulfillment of the commandments.

It is one thing to speak with humility, but another thing again to have a humble heart. Humility is one thing; the fruit and flower of humility are another. The beauty of this fruit and the good things it are quite distinct, and the energies which come from this fruit are different again. Of all these things that lead to humility, some are within our power and some are not. We can conceptualize them, understand them, meditate on them, talk about them, and even put them into practice, but when it comes to that holy humility itself and all its consequent graces, characters, and powers, then this is all a gift of God. It is not from us. Yet no man would ever be counted worthy if he had not first taken care to sow the seeds of all that he was able to do himself.

To remember God is not the same thing as to love God. To fear Him is not the same as to keep His commandments. They are quite different things, though they become one in those who are perfect and impassable.

It is one thing to avoid sin but another matter to practice the commandments. the former is for those who have reached the first stage of impassability; the latter for those who have struggled and lived in accordance with the Gospel.

Idleness is not the same thing as spiritual stillness, and this stillness is not the same thing as silence (hesychia). All three are quite distinct. The first pertains to those who have not desire to participate in the good things of God or even to succeed in good things; the second pertains to those who constantly make time for the knowledge of God, who are attentive to the words of innate wisdom, who search the depths of the Spirit and are initiated into the awesome mysteries of God; the third pertains to those who commit themselves to intellectual pursuits and give close scrutiny to their thoughts (nepsis).

From St. Symeon the New Theologian


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